Mandatory death penalty to be replaced with discretionary sentences, says deputy minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya plans to abolish the mandatory death penalty and replace it with discretionary death sentences for 11 offences under two acts, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Hanipa Maidin said the two acts are the Penal Code and the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971.

Hanipa (PH-Sepang) said this is in line with the 27th promise in Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto.

“Out of the 11 offences, nine fall under the Penal Code and two under the Firearms Act,” he said during question time.

He was responding to Che Abdullah Mat Nawi (PAS-Tumpat), who asked whether a detailed study had been conducted on the decision to abolish the death penalty, and if the government was willing to disclose the findings.

In a supplementary question, Che Abdullah also asked if the government plans to set up a select committee on the abolition of the death penalty. If not, he asked whether it would consider the views of stakeholders before the bill is tabled in Parliament.

To this, Hanipa said the government has yet to reach a decision. He added however that a careful study had been done.

“Nonetheless, this is a good proposal and will be extended to the relevant quarters,” he said.

It was previously reported that Putrajaya might not fully abolish the death penalty, as initially proposed. The federal government was also said to be considering two other options.

De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said three options had been presented to the Cabinet. The first option is the “total abolition” of the death penalty for 33 criminal offences under eight acts, and its replacement with life imprisonment.

The eight laws are the Penal Code, Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, Firearms Act 1960, Kidnapping Act 1961, Armed Forces Act 1972, Water Services Industries Act 2006, Strategic Trade Act 2010, and Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

The second option is for the death penalty to be made non-mandatory for crimes such as murder, with judges given the discretion to sentence convicts to life imprisonment instead.

The third option involves abolishing the mandatory death sentence only for the offence of trafficking dangerous drugs under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act, and replacing it with imprisonment of 30 years, Sin Chew Daily reported.